By Scott Westerman

Scott Westerman“If you’re proactive, you don’t have to wait for circumstances or other people to create perspective expanding experiences. You can consciously create your own.” – Stephen Covey

I recently spent the day with a group of Spartans who work for Google. I was there to ask them how we might better prepare graduates to survive the legendary Google hiring gauntlet and land a gig at one of the world’s best companies.

Their single most important piece of advice: Be Proactive.

The first of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People can’t be over emphasized. What you decide to do every day will be the primary factor that determines how happy you become. It also will be the key driver of your success in every thing you do.

  • Being proactive is deciding what your core values are and making decisions that reflect them.
  • Being proactive is reviewing and preparing for your day the night before.
  • Being proactive is setting goals.
  • Being proactive is looking over the horizon at your next career move and acting as if you’ve already made it right now.
  • Being proactive is getting good grades, even if you can’t see the relevance.
  • Building proactive is building your personal network before you need it.
  • Being proactive is learning everything you can about a company before you visit / interview.
  • Being proactive is anticipating the questions and objections you may get from a client, customer, boss and being prepared to answer them.
  • Being proactive sometimes means going against the flow.
  • Being proactive is imagining what your life will be like tomorrow and preparing for it today.
  • Being proactive is seeking input from people you trust as you are building your game plan.
  • Being proactive is visualizing possible problems and having a “Plan B”.
  • Being proactive is thinking before your speak.
  • Being proactive is making life happen, not letting life happen.

Proactive people decide early on to live a life that energizes their own goals, rather than spending energy achieving the goals of others.

Think about the most successful, self-actualized people you know. Think about the companies that have survived the shifting winds of an ever evolving marketplace. It’s a good bet that they share this one key personality trait.

Where do you see yourself on the proactivity continuum? If you feel like you’re still at the starting gate, remember:

Being proactive begins when you make the decision to take charge of your life. And take action to do it.

Have a great week!

Scott Westerman has been a broadcaster, cable television executive and entrepreneur. In 2010 he joined the MSU Alumni Association as Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations & Executive Director. He is a 1978 graduate of Michigan State University. 

This blog post was originally featured on and has been used by the author’s permission.


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